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Posts tagged “ponds

Sunup

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An early morning sunrise over a local swamp. The sun had just barely cleared the treeline before it was overtaken by an onslaught of approaching clouds, leaving the rest of the day overcast and dull. The entire shoot lasted about ten minutes and served as yet another example of having to “be there” before the event happens if you expect to capture it!

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The Right Stuff

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When I bought my camera in June of 2010 I’d never had any interest in taking photos. I didn’t own a smart phone and I hadn’t used a point and shoot more than a half dozen times in as many years. I simply woke up one day and decided I needed a new hobby, and settled on photography. I sat down at the computer and started doing some research on digital cameras, which is sort of hard to do when you don’t know the first thing beyond pushing a button and getting a mediocre result. A few years earlier I’d tried reading the instruction manual for the point and shoot camera we owned and it lost me after explaining how to turn the camera on. As a result, wading through the endless narratives about which camera and what brand would best suit me was a monumental exercise in frustration.

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I finally settled on the Canon 7D for no other reason than the fact that it was (at that time) a new model and most people were raving about it. I didn’t stop to think that I might be getting in way over my head rather, I thought I’d eventually “grow into” my camera. I reasoned that once I knew what I was doing it would be better to have everything I wanted in a camera than wish I’d bought the next model (or two) up, right? Well it’s been three years since I bought it and I’m still not sure if it was the right decision.

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The first year I had my D7 was a spectacular year for taking outdoor photos. I didn’t know that then, I just thought I had a big fancy camera and every picture I took would (therefore) turn out great! Wow. It’s kinda hard to believe I was that naive. Truth of the matter is, by sheer dumb luck I’d just happened to buy my camera at a very good time. I’ve since learned that great shooting conditions are rare and you can go an entire season (or year or two) and not have more than a few days where the conditions are great for shooting. I didn’t use to care about that and I took lots of pictures anyway, but they weren’t the same quality and I (eventually) knew it. As hard as it is for me to look out the window and see beautiful fall colors in the trees and surrounding landscape, I won’t grab my camera unless the conditions for shooting are just right.

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Perhaps that makes me sound like a snob or far more of a professional than I really am, but the truth of the matter is, I’m lazy. The days of taking a roll of pictures and dropping them off to be developed are gone, and while that gives me lots of creative license, it’s a huge time-suck to have to process my own photos. I’ve become far more discriminatory about when and what I’ll shoot and even which pictures I’ll keep. So the fact of the matter is, unless the conditions are perfect for what I want to shoot, I won’t even bother to try.

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I’ve watched the days turn into weeks, then months as my camera sits untouched. I admit, that makes me a bit uncomfortable sometimes. I worry that I’m being TOO discriminatory or lazy. I feel guilty about the money I’ve spent on equipment that isn’t getting used. But eventually I know I’ll wake up to a morning when I can instantly tell that it’s going to deliver everything I want: light, color, subject and the right conditions. The photo above was taken on one of those mornings.


Balance

Fall Foliage-291(Click on photo for best resolution)

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Certainly not my best effort, but I get a kick out of the symmetry of the Great Blue Heron and it’s reflection in the pond.


Testing! One! Two! Three …

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Anyone who has been reading my blog for the last year knows I went through a buttload of eye surgery and problems. I’m glad to report that a few permanent changes aside, the affected eye is doing good. Translated, that means it sees pretty well most of the time. Occasionally it hurts and I’ll get a day where it’s achy or feels like there’s a grain of sand in it. The rods and cones that make your eye adjust to different levels of light are significantly damaged. So, for example, when I come inside on a bright day it’s a bit like walking into a black wall. I’m trying to learn to give my eye time to adjust to changing light levels, but sometimes it catches me off guard and I get frustrated. Especially if I’m moving from room to room looking for something. But considering what I went through I’m relieved that I have any vision at all. I dodged a bullet there.

While trapped in the continuous loop of repeated eye surgery, I was forced to post-pone a couple of the  preventive tests that the average woman will routinely endure to assure optimal health. Let me just say one thing now and get it off my chest: Men, you have NO idea. None. About any of it. And I’m pretty sure there isn’t a woman alive who, in the midst of a mammogram or PAP test isn’t thinking the same thing. I know women are supposed to get used to having their bodies poked, prodded and palpated by complete strangers, but really, who does? So guys, next time you break out into a cold sweat at the thought of a five second prostate exam just know that no woman alive feels you or cares. Get over it.

Last week, like any well-trained middle-age woman, I went for my slightly overdue mammogram. I’ve been going to the same imaging office since I started this yearly pilgrimage eight years ago. I went somewhere else the first time and was totally and thoroughly traumatized. I mean, who created this torture anyhow? The radiology tech was young, impatient and rough, and it took everything in my power not to kick her in the shins. I promised not to come back and didn’t. Instead, I found an office with a slightly older than middle-age tech. Having been though a mammogram or two herself, Cindy is compassionate, professional and very good at her job. I’ve been going there ever since.

Over the years a few things have changed. For one, x-ray images are now digital, which means they’re “processed” in the same room where they’re taken, and it takes a lot less time to know if you’re done and can be off on your merry way. What hasn’t changed is how the images are taken. The patient steps up to a machine with two small, square plates that close together like a vice. One by one each breast is then stretched out and placed on the lower plate as the tech moves the coordinating arm and shoulder either into or out of the way. The idea is to get not only a picture of the breast, but as much of the surrounding chest wall as possible. This is not an easy feat to achieve, but try they must. Yes, its a little weird to have to watch a stranger manipulate your private parts. It’s not like you can look away. I mean, it’s easier to accomplish the job if you cooperate and …. well, gee … they’re right there under your chin! Sheesh!  When the tech finally has your body contorted into the right position she steps on a foot petal that lowers the top plate toward the lower plate and literally flattens your breast between the two plates like a pancake. Yes, it fucking hurts. And if that’s not enough indignity for you to endure, she  then has to take a second view from a different angle. This time you turn sideways and step toward the machine so it can squeeze your breast from side to side instead of from top to bottom. Good times, not. Then you get to repeat the whole procedure for the other breast.

The other thing that hasn’t changed is that the tech can’t tell you anything about the x-ray. Now I’m not idiot; I worked in dentistry long enough to know that the person developing the x-ray can probably read it just  about as well as the radiologist. Especially someone like Cindy, who’s been taking mammograms since the beginning of time. But her opinion isn’t worth diddly squat and by law, she’s not allowed to share it. But, that doesn’t mean every woman won’t ask. I did. I always do. And she kindly and compassionately deflects. It’s a game every woman probably plays to break the tension. Otherwise it feels a little too much like going to see a palm reader who pours over your hand, then smiles and says, “Thank you very much” and dismisses you without ever telling you what she saw. So we make small talk and babble about the hot weather while I try pretend the whole procedure is really quite routine. Actually, it’s not. There’s nothing routine about getting your breasts manhandled and smashed, then not knowing the results for a week or more. However, once the test is done and I’ve left the office  I’ve never worried about the results. I don’t have any real reason to be concerned and I’m usually just so glad to have it over that I tend to put the whole experience behind me for another year. I’ve always gotten a letter in the mail about a week later telling me everything is hunky-dory and they’ll send a reminder to schedule an appointment in a year. It’s kind of like going to the dentist only it’s booby recall.

So now I’ve crossed one thing off my “to do” list and in two weeks when I go to see my doctor for my semi-annual PAP test (another wildly enjoyable event) I can say I had my mammogram done. Dr. C will be so pleased. And I was pleased too, until yesterday when I came inside from riding and found a message on my answering machine. It was the message no woman ever wants to get: the hospital asking me to call and speak to Lesley in radiology. Shit.  Your mind just kind of wigs out. You have to call, but you don’t want to call. Finally the suspense is killing me so I dialed back and asked for Lesley, who, after the initial pleasantries says I need to come to the hospital to have “more views” taken. “Why?” I ask. Lesley can’t say. “Right” I think, “you’re scaring the crap out of me, but you can’t say why.” Makes no sense whatsoever. Leslie patiently went on to explain that this is not uncommon and it happens a lot.  “What … so this is some kind of breast lottery and my number just got picked?” There’s a small pause in the conversation while Leslie thinks about that. “No” she says finally. “Sometimes the breasts are dense (as in stupid?) or sometimes the radiologist wants a different view.” (Ding! Ding! Ding! Red flag alert! I’m not fooled! How many different ways can you squeeze a breast? I’m guessing that means they think they see something and they want to clarify! ) Leslie didn’t know what my specific case was, but those were the two reasons she gave to help alleviate my fears. (Not!) I scheduled an appointment. They could see me the very next day and oh, by the way, the radiologist will read the films right then and there so I’ll know what’s going on before I leave. Nice touch.

I really don’t have any reason to be worried. Thing is, I’m sure plenty of women thought the same thing and were wrong. But worry never made anything better, so I’ll put on my big girl panties and get myself over to the hospital today to have my boobs assaulted. Again. After all, how much fun can a girl stand?


SunStar

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I’m a little behind getting a photo posted today. Yesterday was (overall) a nice day with family and friends. I was blessed to have been able to talk to all of my siblings in one day, which always makes me feel kinda warm and fuzzy. It’s been 30+ years since I’ve been “home” for Christmas, so talking with each of my sibs on the phone is the next best thing.

Unfortunately, we started our morning with a trip to the hospital to visit my father-in-law who’s been there since early November. It was probably the worst I’ve seen him since his initial operation over six weeks ago. Since then he’s had multiple organ blowouts and failures, fevers, infections, high blood pressure and the inability to eat anything by mouth. A feeding tube was placed late last week and it’s taken several days to get him up to speed with it’s operation. Just when we thought he might finally be able to get downgraded to a rehab facility (oxymoron, since he’s not going anywhere from there) he developed yet another complication. As it stands, I don’t think he’ll ever come out of the anesthesia-related dementia/psychosis. He had a touch of moderate “forgetfulness” going into this, but now ….. well, he can’t comprehend what’s going on or communicate a thing. The family imported his 85 year-old sister from Croatia in hopes that might bolster his reserve, but this has done little more than add another stressed person to the chaos. I vocalized my disagreement about this decision when it was in the process of being made, so now I just need to shut up and stay out of the way.

While this isn’t one of my best pictures, it’s a reminder to enjoy each day as it comes. Our time here is fleeting.


Merry Christmas!

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May the spirit of Christmas be with you today and through the new year!


Family Swim

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Liftoff

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Morning Fog lifts off a swamp.


Ponds

 

 

 

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There’s been a lot of emphasis on water since the storm of the century showed up on our doorstep. I live some 35 miles from the shore and when high tides and storm surges collide it isn’t a big threat. However, we do have a large amount of water nearby. Streams that swell, rivers that rise and ponds that balloon beyond their banks when snow melts or storms dump an unprecedented amount of rain in them. My house is above flood level, but we can easily become marooned here if nearby waterways get too high. But this last summer was relatively dry and so our surrounding landscape managed to soak up all the rain. As incredible as it sounds, our sump pump never kicked on during this “epic” storm! Quite the different scenario from last fall’s hurricane/tropical storm, Irene. But I’m not complaining. We did get a lot of  debris and breakage from various sized trees, so I’ll be busy cleaning up the yard and acreage before the snow arrives.

Thanks for all the well-wishes during our highly unsettled weather!


Stillwater

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Blue Spanish Sky by Chris Isaac from Heart Shaped World

I’m hoping this fall is as colorful as it was two summers ago. It’s hard to believe fall is almost here. Where does the time go?


Revisit

 

 

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It’s hard to believe I took this picture exactly a year ago. The scene outside my window looks nothing like it today. Had I bought my camera this fall I would have been sorely disappointed. So far the beautiful skies and stunning color haven’t arrived …. and might not make their seasonal appearance this fall.

That’s OK. I’m not feeling very much in the mood anyway. I’m still struggling to move on in the aftermath of last week. Mostly, I’m fine, but sometimes not. I suspect that’s how it will go for a while to come. Thanks to all who have called or posted condolences and comments. Forgive me for not responding to each post individually, but please know that I appreciate the support.


What Fall?

 

 

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At this time last year the landscape colors were rich and warm. It was an true Indian Summer complete with cool nights, mild sunny days, and gorgeous sunrises and  sunsets. Day after day I got up before the crack of dawn and shot tons of pictures. By comparison, this fall looks like a dud. That may change later in the month, but I’ve heard rumors that “Irene” dumped so much saltwater on parts of the New England landscape that it’s going to be a brown fall.


On Guard

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More action in our pond. There’s a female too, but she was taking a quick snooze in the long grass just off to the left of the frame.  This guy was very hard to catch standing still. He took his sentry duty pretty seriously.

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May 10, 2011

Canon EOS 7D

ISO:200, 163mm, 1/40 sec, f/4.0

Lens: Tamron 70-200mm

Lightroom3: brightness/contrast adj.


Up Periscope!

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The pond is in full fledged activity mode now, with plenty of frogs, snakes and polliwogs. The resident hawks swoop over the murky water regularly, hunting whatever they can find while I circle the perimeter, camera in hand, doing the same.

April 29, 2011.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 100, 135mm, 1/200 sec, f/5.6

Lens Canon EF-S18-136 3.5-5.6 IS

Lightroom3: Crop, minor contrast/brightness adj.


Pond Pets

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Ah yes, another sign of spring. The black snakes are starting to warm themselves in the sun. They like to lay in the grassy peninsula  next to the foot bridge  that crosses the stream that flows out of the pond. So in other words, I get to walk about four or five feet away from these guys and gals. Yes, they scare the living bejesus out of me when I space out and forget they might be there. Black snakes are as fast as lightening and want no part of humans. They move off (scamper?) at rocket speed and leave you screaming (read as: cussing) at a deserted spot in the grass. But snake or no snake, that creepy feeling that a big snake was just there can’t be denied.

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"Does the critter I'm digesting make me look fat?"

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I’m not a big fan of snakes, but fortunately, most of the ones we get here are harmless. And I’m constantly reminded by my darling husband that snakes are good natural predators of vermin, of which we have an overabundance. In fact, our local chipmunk population has all but chewed it’s way into my house and I’ve almost given up on feeding the birds. So a few (well, a LOT) of black snakes aren’t such a bad thing. Unless they’re coming right AT you…

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This big girl was about three (plus?) feet long. Not huge by black snake standards, but no slouch either. I’m not used to seeing such large snakes this early in the spring, especially given how cold April was. But I should have known better. Over the weekend Aldo said he saw a HUGE black snake down in our riding ring … like, four or five feet long and as big around as his wrist. Wonderful news, that! So I’ll be real anxious to go down there … NOT!

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And what could be better than one big honking black snake?

Two!


Signs Of Spring

The pond frogs have been serenading us for weeks already. It seems like they started much too early; the snow had barely melted when we heard the first incessant chirps. Some nights the temperature still dips well into the low 30s and it amazes me that the frogs continue to call to one another in spite of the cold. It wasn’t long before their gelatinous eggs started to float on the surface of the water. It looks like the new generation will be prolific and I expect we’ll be hearing them for months to come!

 

This photo doesn’t really qualify as macro, but I like it.


Golden Pond

 

 

This is another one of my favorite photos from last fall. I would love to get a chance to shoot this scene over again under the exact same conditions. When I took this picture I was rushing and trying to work with some pretty challenging elements. First of all, the lighting was tricky and it was changing fast, but I was also trying to capture some of the stunning foliage as well as get the boat and dock into this particular photo. Unfortunately, this would have been the perfect setting if it hadn’t been for the power lines and poles that littered the background. I didn’t have a good view of the scene until I was right on top of it and I was so dismayed when I saw the power lines. I knew they were going to show up in just about every picture I took. (Here, you only see a few poles, but they ran all along the far left side of the pond, then up, over and across the opposite rise. I used the tree to block as many of the poles and lines as I could in this photo.)  And on top of everything else, at the time I thought I might have been trespassing on private land. I hadn’t seen any signs posted, but I was worried that someone from a house on the edge of the property might come out and holler at me. I’d parked on the side of the road and cut through a stand of trees to get to the field in front of the pond. I don’t know. call me paranoid, but it just felt like maybe I was on private property. So I rushed. I know I didn’t take the time I should have taken to get really GREAT shots. But I had the right idea and frankly, if going back through my catalog has shown anything it’s that sometimes the more time I have to take a photo and the harder I try, the less impressive my results are. I think I’m one of those people who does my best work when I just shoot what I think looks good and not always worry so much about getting everything “right.”  OK, so perfectly focused pictures would be a good thing, but you get my drift …  😉

 

 

Oct 13, 2010. 6:00 PM. EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 400, 17mm, 1/25 sec,  f/25.

Lens: Tamron 17-24mm

Lightroom3: Minor Brightness/contrast adj.


Green Valley

One of my favorite pictures from last fall.

 

 

Oct 16, 2010. 8:20 AM EST.

ISO: 200, 24mm, 1/320 sec, f/14.

Lens: Canon EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

PS5: HDR toning


Bright Sky

 

 

It’s amazing what a difference a day makes. It’s hard to tell by this picture, but it was very cold on this bright morning  … just slightly above zero. We’re in for another winter storm so this landscape may look a little different in a day or two. We’ve certainly had a lot of snow this winter and while I’m a bit weary from all the work, I really do like the snow. I have to wonder what spring will be like, though. All this white stuff  will have to melt and go somewhere … like, into my basement!

 

 

Jan 31, 2011 8:21 AM EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 100, 18mm, 1/50 sec, f/16.

PS5: HDR toning

 


What Pond?

It’s hard to believe there’s a pond buried under all that snow.  A few surviving cattails poke through the  landscape, giving the location away. The barn roof has been cleared off now, and it doesn’t look nearly as pretty as it did in this photo. Stacks of snow surround the outbuildings and I’m more limited getting access around them than ever before. More snow is expected mid-week, but I’m not sure what we’ll do with it when it arrives. And in looking down the line to spring all I can think of is the line from Jaws: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!”  The flooding in our basement is going to be epic, for sure. Oh well  … It gives me something to look forward to!

 

Jan 27, 2011 9:36 EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 125, 17mm, 1/160 sec, f/9.0

Lens: Tamron 10-24mm

PS5: HDR Toning & minor adjustments.

 


Got Snow?

If you don’t have enough snow I’d be more than happy to send you some of mine. Yesterday and last night we got another 20+ inches dumped on us. This time the snow is heavy and I’m pretty much out of places to put it and the back to lift it. The dogs are going stir crazy, the horses are pestering each other and my left hand is entirely numb from shoveling.

It could have been worse … we could have lost power too. I just hope the roof doesn’t ice up again and start leaking inside … we’ve certainly got all the right conditions for that to happen again!

 

Jan 27, 2011. 8:31 AM. EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 125, 22mm, 1/80 sec, f/11.

Lens: Canon EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS.

Lightroom 3: Minor contrast, brightness adj.


Back To Bashan

 

 

I messed around a bit more with the HDR. For me, it’s not so much the settings that are confounding, but the saving/resizing/converting into a format that I can post here. I’m so computer illiterate that I get far too bogged down in that end of things, more so than the actual processing. That kinda takes the fun out of it. It takes me ten or fifteen minutes to actually process the photo, then half a day to figure out how to save it and get it into a reproducible file format! There’s gotta be an easier way, I just haven’t figured it out yet!

 

But I digress. Above, another one of my attempts to tinker with HDR. Below is one of the original pictures that I merged, the lightest exposure of the series. I’ve tried to use the HDR program to bring out some of the finer details of this winter scene without making the picture look too surreal.

 

 

Jan 16, 2011. 5:40 PM EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 100, 22mm, 1/15 sec, 1/60 sec, 1/30 sec, f/18

Lens: Tamron 10-24mm

PS5: HDR

 


Winter Storage

I was searching for a clearing to shoot the sunset at Bashan Lake when I spied these snow covered boats through the trees. I couldn’t get any closer and I was penned in on both sides, but I decided to try a couple of shots anyway. Most of the homes on this lake are seasonal and are closed up for the winter, but I didn’t feel comfortable trespassing on private property. I might get a better shot later in the winter if some of the snow that’s blocking the way melts, but for now this will have to do.

 

 

Jan 16, 2011. 5:12 PM. EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 100, 135mm, 1/13 sec, f/22.

Lens: Canon EF-S18-135mm 3.5-5.6 IS

Lightroom 3: Brightness/contrast adj.


River Valley

I live in an area fondly referred to as the Connecticut River Valley. I never really thought about that very much until I started taking pictures. In a nutshell, it means that no matter where I go, the sun is going to rise or set behind a ridge. And that means the sunrise or sunset is always going to be better in a spot where I’m not. I don’t live in a place that’s surrounded by flat, wide, expansive vistas. Instead, the landscape is craggy and littered with power lines and dense woods.  It’s enormously frustrating to know there’s a gorgeous sunrise or sunset forming on the horizon, but you’re powerless to get someplace where you can shoot it.

 

This picture was taken at Bashan Lake. The opposite side of the lake has provided some stunning sunrise photos, but on this side of the lake the road is slightly higher.  I thought it would be a good place to capture a sunset.  Wrong.  In many places houses, trees or power lines blocked the view and when I finally found a suitable place to shoot, the sun dropped like a rock behind the opposite ridge. I caught some nice shadows and a bit of orange glow, but I could tell that was the end of the show. Normally, I follow the golden rule that you “don’t pack until it’s black,” but it was very cold and I had a few errands to run. I loaded up my car, drove out the narrow lake road and proceeded back toward my neighborhood, all the while glancing over my left shoulder at the bright crimson glow just over the horizon. My car finally crested a steep rise and I got a five second view of a stunning sunset. I groaned.

 

Countless mornings I’ve sat right in my office and watched the most gorgeous sunrises, but I know from past experience that, short of pointing my camera directly at the sky, I don’t have a chance in hell of capturing them. I’ve heard it said that the best photos are usually taken just a ten or fifteen minute drive from your own house, but I’m thinking maybe that rule doesn’t apply here, or at least not if you’re hoping to capture a nice landscape. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this. Either I’m going to have to get up a lot earlier and drive a lot farther to get the kind of sunrises I want, or I’m going to have to learn to deal with the frustration of being disappointed a lot.

 

 

Jan. 16, 2011. 5:27 PM. EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 100, 19mm, 1/15 sec, f/22.

Lens: Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 DiII

Lightroom 3: Minor brightness, contrast adjustment.